Monday, July 18, 2016

The Worst Day of their Lives

Everyone has bad days. We even sometimes have days that we call, "the worst!" as in "OMG, this is the WORST day of my life." But we usually don't mean it. I think there are few worse things in life than seeing the worst day of your own life, or anyone else's.

Today is the worst day in the lives of several of the people I saw today and it was particularly painful knowing that I could do nothing but watch the horror unfold. I have been, for most of the last nine years, a soldier's mother. I don't think there is a day that goes by when I don't worry, that I'm not working hard to push away the feat

There is no standard for funerals. Sometimes the family is there before the guests and they greet you and speak of their loved one. Sometimes, they are overwhelmed, as would be expected, and so you hug and move on, almost knowing that in the hours and days that follow, there's a decent chance they'll never even remember you were there.

Today, I went to the funeral of a 20-year-old soldier who was killed in the line of duty. I listened as brothers spoke, as sisters cried. All around me, people were holding each other and wishing they could be anywhere but where they were, where they had to be.
He decided to come to Israel, learn Hebrew within a few months, and get into the unit in the army he wanted. And he did it. I admired him so much, and I don't think I even told him that. I told other people, I bragged about my brother, but I'm not sure if I told him."  -- Shlomo's brother Baruch.
Today was the worst day of their lives - this mother who brought this boy into this world, had him for 20 years, and has now lost him. I went because like the hundreds of other people who were there, I wanted to show my support; I wanted them to know that the land that their son, Shlomo Zalman, had chosen to serve, had chosen and loved him in return.
You were the young one in the family, the baby, but you never wanted to accept that. You were so mature and wanted to do everything the older siblings were doing. We might have given you a hard time sometimes, but we loved you so so much, because you were our baby. And I miss you so so much, my baby. -- Shlomo's sister, Baila
He was the one they loved to tease; the one they ordered around. He was the baby of the family, the youngest and yet the one who always knew what he wanted most in life. In another month, he was to return to their home and spend a month playing with his nieces and nephews. Now he never will, and that thought devastated his sister and in hearing it, devastated each of us.

There are so many things that we as a people share. We share a past that dates back thousands of years, a collective conscience in many ways, that allows us to recognize the other in distant lands. A stranger in Amsterdam, in London, even in India will walk up to you and suddenly the reason they approach you is obvious. They too are Jews, seeking the familiar, the connection.

At a conference in Germany, a man approaches me and speaks in Hebrew. For that moment, he is an anchor to my real world, and I am his. It has happened again and again to me when I travel. It is an unspoken, unbroken bond.

Today that bond had me travel to a small village in the center of Israel to stand and watch people that I have never met before, suffer through a day they will never forget. It will always be the day that changed their lives, a day they will wish a million times that they never had to experience.
Today is a day of tragedy for the family, for the army, and for the Jewish nation everywhere. Shlomo joined the army to follow in the footsteps of four brothers and two sisters who did national service. Shlomo, you always smiled, you always were there to help whoever needed it. You could have done a shorter term of service as part of the diaspora volunteer program, but you decided to do the full three years. You will always be an example to all of us, to your brothers and sisters, and everyone who knew you. -- Shlomo's brother Jeff.
I cried today for Shlomo Rindenow, for the sweet boy they spoke about, for the husband and father he never got to be. And I cried for his parents and his siblings and their families and I thought about what a horrible day it was, really and truly, the very worst.

May tomorrow bring them comfort; may the memories of the gift that was their son bring them light in the darkest of days.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

DEVASTATING! No words for this. Jan

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